• Santander UK launches adult education programme to develop green, digital and professional leadership skills, which research shows are the skills needed to power the economy of the future.
  • The £6 million programme will help 500,000 people over three years.
  • The courses for adults of any age are free to access and can be completed in four hours. They will be available to access in 2024.
  • The education programme is the latest in Santander’s lifelong learning offering, from financial education in schools to funding degree-level studies through the Santander Universities Scholars Programme.
  • Santander’s autumn 2023 Trade Barometer shows businesses see access to the right skills, including sustainability expertise, as key barrier to expansion.

Santander UK has today launched an adult education programme to equip people from age 18 onwards with digital, sustainability and professional growth skills that will set them up for the jobs of the future.

The bank has partnered with xUnlocked and Fearless Adventures to provide three courses:

  • Digital skills - A dynamic learning experience encompassing AI, coding, digital marketing and social media.
  • Sustainability skills - Prepares participants for impactful green careers in financial services, energy and power, and construction and building materials.
  • Grow at work - Leadership programme aimed at developing skills essential for professional growth, including effective communication, conflict resolution and team collaboration.

The £6 million programme will help half a million people over three years, and combined with Santander’s Open Academy platforms that provide access to free courses and skills programmes, over 1 million people will be able to access the skills to future-proof the UK’s workforce.

There is a proven need for these skills in the future jobs market. Government research has shown that digital skills are in demand everywhere, and carry a wage differential. Specific digital skills may even help workers avoid the risk of automation.[1] A LinkedIn report on Global Green Skills in 2023 demonstrates that growth in demand for these skills is outpacing the increase in supply, with an increase of 22.4% in the share of job postings requiring at least one green skill between 2022 and 2023, but only a 12.3% increase in the share of green talent in the workforce.[2]

Santander’s autumn 2023 Trade Barometer shows that, of the businesses surveyed, 22% see accessing the right skills as one of the challenges they face when operating in international markets. Of the businesses that see skills shortages as a problem, a third consider that they lack expertise in sustainability. This includes help to understand their business’s sustainability performance, and skilled people to implement and evaluate their ESG strategies.

Affordability and time are the leading factors for people not completing training courses, according to research commissioned by Santander UK. When asked why they have not completed a skills course before, 31% of people surveyed said it was because they couldn’t afford it, while 23% said they did not have time. At a time when the cost of living is making affordability concerns more pronounced, Santander’s new education programme is made up of courses that are free to access and do not exceed four hours.

William Vereker, Chair of Santander UK, said: “Building skills in key areas such as digital and sustainability plays a crucial role in helping people to future-proof their careers and ensure their financial resilience. Santander offers support for people to learn new skills throughout their lives, from school – with our Numbers Game financial literacy work – to much later in life, when they may want to develop or change their career paths. Our new skills courses in partnership with xUnlocked and Fearless Adventures are designed to give people the tools to succeed at the jobs of the future.”

Santander UK is committed to education, entrepreneurship and employability, and supports people to achieve their educational and professional goals from school to university to setting up a business. The bank works to promote the need for financial education to reach statutory status in England’s primary school curriculum, funds scholarships, travel awards and research grants for university students, and provided more than £19m in equity-free funding to start-ups and small businesses.


[1] No Longer Optional: Employer Demand for Digital Skills (publishing.service.gov.uk)

[2] Global Green Skills Report 2023 (linkedin.com)


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Notes to editors:

Banco Santander has plans to continue to expand its education, employability, and entrepreneurship initiative by investing an additional €400 million (more than $426 million USD) by 2026.

Santander has invested over €2.2 billion in the programme since it was founded in 1996, helping over 1 million people achieve brighter career prospects through education, employability and entrepreneurship and making Santander one of the largest private contributors to education in the world. In 2022 alone, the bank dedicated €100 million and helped over 250,000 beneficiaries of scholarships, internships and entrepreneurship programmes. 

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 30 June 2023, the bank had around 19,400 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, 7 million digital customers via a nationwide 445 branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the FCA and the PRA in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the FSCS in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in the Europe, North America and South America regions, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Santander aims to be the best open financial services platform providing services to individuals, SMEs, corporates, financial institutions and governments. The bank’s purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising €220 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2030. At the end of the third quarter of 2023, Banco Santander had €1.3 trillion in total funds, 166 million customers, 8,700 branches and 212,000 employees.


Media Enquiries 

Hannah Schraer     M: 07708 290801 E: hannah.schraer@santander.co.uk 

Emily Osborne        M: 07561 873389 E: Emily.osborne@santander.co.uk 

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